The Russia-Ukraine war has had a limited effect on Europe vacation booking

Runway Travel travel adviser Jessica Griskavez says Ukraine has not canceled passengers booking luxury trips to Europe during the war. Photo, Grignan, France.

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There is no end to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, how is it affecting Americans’ European holiday plans? It depends on who you ask, but overall the answer seems to be somewhere between “not at all” and “little”.

Travel app hopper noticed a decline in flight searches for the continent in early February, with air fares increasing significantly. Yet one travel adviser said he did not see any drop in European bookings or encouragement to leave from his clients.

Jennifer Griskavez, founder of Runway Travel, an independent associate of MacLean at Virginia-based McCabe World Travel, is “very busy booking European travel” despite the war in Ukraine.

“The biggest impact we’ve seen is the concern about traveling to any country that shares a border with Russia or Ukraine,” he said, especially by customers booking a “bucket list” trip to the Russian port city of St. Petersburg. As part of a Baltic Sea cruise.

“Unfortunately, cruise lines have had to cancel stops in St. Petersburg. [so] Most of our clients have moved these vessels to 2023, “he added.

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According to the European Travel Commission in Brussels, the news is not great for destinations near the conflict zone or for places bordering Russia or Ukraine, as they have already seen a huge drop in overall visitors due to the epidemic. The Czech Republic saw an 81% drop in arrivals last year compared to 2019, followed by Finland -80%, Latvia -78%, Estonia -77%, Slovakia -76% and Lithuania -74%. ETC.

However, the picture could be brighter for more western destinations. Despite “some mild concerns”, Europe’s runway travel is largely “still going” for well-heeled clients. “Italy, Greece and France in particular have been very popular,” Griscavage said.

Audrey Handley, president of Global Express and Lifestyle Services at American Express, said the affected areas are not major destinations for customers, the company is matching card member donations, and has donated $ 1 million in relief efforts and provided 1 million hotel room nights. Refugee support.

“These are not big destinations for us,” he said. “However, every destination is important; every customer is important.”

Hopper’s researchers report an impact on search demand, bookings and airfare across Europe in the weeks following Russia’s February 26 attack on Ukraine.

According to their report, “How is the Russia-Ukraine war affecting travel?” Booking volume started to increase from January to mid-February as Omicron declined but has now returned to the level seen at the beginning of the year.

“This is not necessarily a strong fall,” said Adit Damodaran, a Hopper price analyst.

“It simply came to our notice then [searches] It continues to grow at a certain rate, but now it has kind of weakened and is flattened below what we expected, ”said Damodaran.

The impact of the attack appears to have been less on Hopper’s existing transatlantic bookings than on Covid. Whereas about 20% of app users who bought “canceled for any reason” protection with their trip to Europe exercised their right to return to the epidemic, only 15% did so during the current crisis in Ukraine.

Those who just consider booking are more hesitant. They are not going to make new bookings in Europe.

Adit Damodaran

Price analyzer at Hopper

“It could be that many of our travelers are going to Western Europe,” Damodaran said. “If they’ve already booked that trip, they’ll know, ‘I can go on.’

“But those who are only considering booking are more hesitant,” he added. “They’re not going to make new bookings in Europe.”

Damodaran says travelers are postponing planned European travel instead of booking alternative destinations. “In more general years, Europe will account for about 30% or about one third of our bookings [and] That’s about 15% now, ”he said.

Flight searches and actual bookings may be lower but air fares have increased, Hopper found. European rents are up 16% per month. That may sound like a lot, but, according to Damodaran, jet fuel prices rose 70% in 2021 in the wake of the epidemic – and then only 30% again in the first three months of this year, going from $ 2.86 per gallon to $ 2.20 according to the US Energy Information Administration.

“The scale of what we’ve seen since the beginning of 2022 is huge,” he said. “We hope that the increase in the price of jet fuel will show up in air fares.”

To be fair, domestic U.S. air fares have risen 36% since Jan. 1.

“We generally expect that in a more normal year like 2019 it will be around 7% to 8%,” Damodaran said. Carriers typically incur some of the cost of more expensive jet fuel “because it ultimately affects travelers’ willingness to pay.”

Moscow’s attack on Ukraine and its impact on the global energy market could make matters worse.

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